Last month I shared my definition of leadership: Effectively communicating your vision, mission and purpose. Today, I’d like to share what I mean by vision. The vision is the destination. Let’s say we’re going on vacation (holiday). Where are we going exactly? Where are we going to stay? What will we do when we get there? You don’t go on vacation without a clear vision of where you are going, right? When you buy an airline ticket, you have to tell them exactly what city you are going to, correct? When you get in a taxi, you tell the driver exactly where you are going, no?
“Vision + Vision = Division”
Dion Robert pastors a church of over 100,000 people on the Ivory Coast of Africa. He says “vision + vision = division.” If you and your team are pulling in a different direction, eventually division comes. Many years ago I had two partners. Each of us had different gifts. I was the sales and marketing guy (and president - the leader), one was the operations guy and one was the administration guy. When we worked together, it was a thing of beauty. Each was passionate about his area. Each was competent in his area.
The business grew by leaps and bounds. Eventually, three different visions emerged regarding where we should go with the business. In the last couple of years of our eight years together, and in struggling with each other in disagreements about what should and shouldn’t be done, one of the partners finally bowed out.
I was happy to oblige him and paid him what he wanted. He still works with me today and is a phenomenal person. Just because people have a different opinion doesn’t mean they’re wrong or a bad person. In fact, had we done some of the things he wanted to way back then, I would have avoided a great deal of heartache later on.
Once he was out of the picture, my other partner and I continued to butt heads. Shortly after, he went on to be a trainer, which he loves to do and both of them made out very well financially. I got my company back and was able to pursue my vision, which not only eventually led to a predictable, profitable turnkey operation, but I’m living my dream helping other business owners stop being a slave to their business.
There can be only one vision.
We can’t be on our way to Florida and Texas at the same time. We can go to one first and then go to the other. We can stop by one on the way to the other, but if I’m in Alabama, I can’t be on my way to both at the same time.
Michael E. Gerber said in his book Awakening the Entrepreneur from Within, “A vision is comprised of your primary aim and your strategic objective. The first is the vision for your life. The second is the vision for your business. Together, these two visions become the driving force for the growth of the company.”
You see, together these become the driving force. Your business vision must reinforce your life goals. Otherwise you’ll be conflicted. Be clear on both and communicate them to your staff.
Get Your Dream Team Involved in the Vision
Even though there can only be one vision, I would have done better by incorporating some of my partners’ ideas into my vision. Over the years I got better at listening to others (as my friend Tom Ziglar says, “Your hearing gets much better after you’ve failed a few times”). Now I include my team in the vision casting. Dale Carnegie said, “People support a world they help create.” Today, when I have a challenge or a problem or want to brainstorm, I get my team together. And I have to admit that some of our very best ideas didn’t come from me.
Your Vision Consists of...
Your Dream: The inspiring picture that engages your mind, will and emotion, empowering you do everything you can to achieve it. Get your team in involved in the dream. The dream includes everything you want to be, do and have as a company. People want to work for people who have dreams. People want to be associated with successful people. People want to work for a company that has dreams of being something special.
Your Values: Who are we as a group? Zig Ziglar said if you want to have something different, you’ve got to do something different. And to consistently do something different, you’ve got to be something different. The actions you take are directly related to who you think you are. As a leader, you must develop your team to understand who they are.
Who you are is defined by your values. What do we really value as a team? We can say we value the customer, but does it really show up in our actions? We can say we value one another, but does it really show up in our daily routine? We can say we value making a profit, but when there isn’t any, we better do a values check to see what we value higher than profits.
We value what we do and we do what we value. There is no escaping this truth! I can say I value health, but if I don’t exercise and eat right, I value something more than health! Look at how you act as a team and you will see what you value.
Your Culture: The end result is your values (what you do as a group). The most important thing in a company is its culture. The company culture is the sum total of who we are. It is the reality of our character as a team. It is who we really are. Your culture is defined by your values.
Each person who comes into your company has a different value set. Each person has a different way of handling conflict, celebrating success and dealing with failures. Their values may or may not be constructive. As a company, you’ve got to adopt the values you want the company to live by and effectively communicate them to your staff.
Your Goals: Do you have specific, measurable, achievable goals for your staff? Is your sales goal posted? Do you have production goals? Do you have profit goals? Part of your vision is your goals. Your goals are the points along the route that you want to reach in a specific time frame. I drive from my home in the Houston area to my place in Destin, FL on a regular basis.
The goal is my specific location in Destin. I know how much time it takes to get to each city. I know that when I’ve been driving 2.5 hours, I should be in Lake Charles, LA. I know when I get to Pensacola, FL, I’ve got about an hour and a half to go. These time frames work out just fine as long as I don’t run out of gas, there aren’t any traffic jams or I don’t get distracted and go on a scenic route.
All of the following have happened to me over the years. I have no idea why I admit the following, but my wife and son were in the car coming back from Destin with me once and I often use drive time to think. They were both asleep and I was all worked up over a piece of property I wanted to buy. I was completely and utterly consumed in thoughts and imaginations, when the unthinkable happened. I let my brand new Lexus run out of gas! How can that happen? That was my wife’s question for sure!
I’ve been making that trek for many years, so many things have happened. Light posts have fallen, thunderstorms so heavy, you couldn’t see the lights in front of you (along with lightning so close you thought the glory of God had come down on you it was so bright), and many accidents. Fortunately I’ve never been in an accident on that stretch. One time a tanker truck exploded and the freeway was completely shut down. I got out my GPS and formulated a route through some small Louisiana towns. Hours later I was back on the freeway.
The point is that these kinds of things happen in your business. It won’t always be smooth sailing. But if you don’t have a goal - if you don’t even know where you are going and when and if you ever get there - all you’ll know is that you don’t have gas or there are problems. When you have clear-cut goals, you’ll know how you are progressing on the journey.